From testimony yesterday by Victor H. Reis, assistant secretary of energy for defense programs, before the House Armed Services Committee:

Rep. Mac Thornberry: Let me ask you to comment briefly on this idea that an outside czar is going to be in charge of security. . . . At Pantex we have changed to where every worker is worried about safety. You don't have outside people looking over your shoulder saying, "Do that safely." Every worker has to be part of it. Have you looked at outside czars of security?

Mr. Reis: No. . . . My grandfather left Russia in 1888 because he didn't want to work for a czar. (Laughter.) You know, we don't do czars very well in this country. I think, frankly, we only do czars as an admission of failure. In other words, when the bureaucracy or the administration can't come together for anything, we put a czar together, and he or she acts as a coordinating point. But then over time what happens is the system rejects, if you will, that czar because it just doesn't work.

I mean, I think your analogy with safety is just right. You can't have a safety czar that's going to beat you up. You've got to believe in what you're doing. . . .

Rep. Ellen Tauscher: . . . But you are in favor of us having -- the members of the House and perhaps members of the Senate -- . . . that it would be smart for us to put together some kind of joint congressional oversight committee?

Mr. Reis: I think that would be very helpful.